Erie County Sheriff’s deputy found guilty of assault at 2017 Bills tailgate

Orchard Park

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) — An Erie County Sheriff’s Deputy has been found guilty of assaulting a man attending a Buffalo Bills game two seasons ago.

Kenneth Achtyl was charged with assault, official misconduct, and falsifying records. He was convicted Friday on three counts. One note from court: Achtyl was found guilty of reckless assault, not intentional assault. All are misdemeanor charges.

Nicholas Belsito, a University at Buffalo student at the time, was left injured with a bloody face after his arrest.

A widely-viewed video, in which both Achtyl and Belsito appear, was at the center of this trial.

Dec. 3 2017

The Bills hosted the New England Patriots on a Sunday which ended with a 23 – 3 home loss. When asked about that day’s tailgate parties, a deputy testified this week that the atmosphere was “the worst one that I had ever been to.”

That deputy was wearing the body camera which recorded video of the parking lot incident. WARNING: This video contains strong language and graphic content. 

Video of the incident depicts Belsito swearing at Achtyl, who then takes off after him. What happens next isn’t captured on the body cam video. However, other evidence presented over the course of the trial showed Belsito being hit in the face with Achtyl’s baton.

Belsito testified that Achtyl grabbed him by his sweatshirt and held his baton to his neck before ramming him into the Ford Explorer.

“I didn’t think (swearing) would be a reason for him to come after me,” Belsito said in court.

Achtyl’s defense did get Belsito to admit he didn’t fully comply with other orders deputies gave him as he was being taken into custody.

Achtyl did not take the stand is his own defense. Since he was charged in May, he has since remained on administrative leave from the sheriff’s office.

Achtyl is one of three deputies sued earlier this month by a Cattaraugus County man for using excessive force during a 2018 traffic stop in Springville.

Belsito was initially charged with disorderly conduct and obstructing governmental administration after the incident. Those charges were later dropped.

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said that a town judge dropped a bulk of the charges against Belsito, and he dropped the rest. He said after the verdict that justice was done, and although he doesn’t relish prosecuting a teammate, Belsito didn’t deserve a broken nose and a concussion even if he wasn’t acting appropriately.

Achtyl offered no comment upon leaving court. According to the District Attorney’s Office, he faces up to two years in prison at his sentencing, scheduled for Jan. 23.

“It has been an emotional week for the Belsito family but they are extremely pleased with the verdict. Having been validated by a criminal jury, we will now move forward with our civil claims.” Aaron Glazer tells News 4 Glazer represents Nicholas Belsito, Achtyl’s victim.

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